Tag Archives: love

P.R.A.Y.

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is an acronym I learned long ago. It stands for:

Praise God for who He is

Repent of your sins

Ask

Yield to God’s will.

Praising is awesome. It is a time to remember my many blessings and connect with God on a personal level. Praise is all about who God is and enjoying family time with Him. Praise is personal. This is where unexpected answers sometimes come, where Abba Father and I can laugh together. When I enter into praising my Father, He lovingly shapes my heart and attitude. If I come to Him angry but remember to STILL approach Him with praise on my lips, everything changes. He re-orients my heart, my perspective, and pours out grace and humility over me. Praise is crucial before we ask, not to “butter God up” to get what we want, but to remember who He is and align our hearts and minds with His.

Repentance is tough work. If we honestly search our hearts and find nothing awry, this is the time to ask God to reveal any areas in our hearts and lives that need work. Whatever we are struggling with, this is the time to get it off our chest. God already knows every thought we’ve ever had, everything we ever did when we thought no one was watching, when we forgot the One who is with us always and never leaves our side. This is the time to admit we cannot fix ourselves, and we need some help. This is where holy breaking occurs. In repentance, shackles fall away. Walls tumble down. Here we receive strength beyond what we are capable of alone. Here, we find healing and acceptance.

Asking is easy. We always want more from God, but unless we temper our requests with praise, repentance, and yielding to God’s will, if we only talk to our Heavenly Daddy when we want something, we reduce the Creator of the Universe to Santa Clause, or “the great sky wizard” as some of my Atheist friends call Him. Oh, beloved, do you understand how hurtful this is? God loves us. He delights in our little questions. Like any loving father, He just wants to spend time with us. He wants to be so much more than a big spiritual wallet to us. If all we ever do is ask, we are missing out on the healthiest, most stable relationship of our lives. We miss out on truly experiencing God.

Now this last one, this yielding business, I really struggle with this. I suspect many do. “Thy will be done” is so easy to say, but so much harder for me to put into practice. Yielding means letting go of expectations. Yielding means trusting that God knows what’s best, that He is big enough and powerful enough, that He is good and loving. Yielding means praising our Father no matter the outcome. It means praising Him when we cannot see His hand at work. It means praising Him and trusting that He is working all things for good even when it seems our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. If repentance is where we break, yielding is where God rebuilds us, but we HAVE to let Him! Yielding is where we get out of God’s way and just let the Master work! Can you imagine if clay fought in the potter’s hands? If paint wouldn’t stay on the brush long enough to become a masterpiece? Yielding is life, friends, and I forget to do it! We can ask and repent until we’re blue in the face, but if we are not willing to accept God’s “No’s,” His “Not Yet’s,” and His “Father Knows Best and That Ain’t It’s,” then we miss out on healing. We miss out on the greatest love story of our lives. We miss prosperity, peace, and great joy. We miss being a part of something great, something bigger than ourselves. Yielding is absolutely crucial to meeting our full spiritual potential, doing the impossible, knowing God, and I forget to do it! Or I just resist! I hold onto my own desires, stamp my foot and demand my own way. Does that ever work? Would you do me a favor? Would you pray for me? And tell me how I can pray for YOU. Where are you hurting? What are you struggling with? What has God done in your life lately?

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Acceptance.

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Today I was finally able to say goodbye to my best friend. It was the most painful thing I have ever, ever done. I don’t know what I am going to do without her, but life goes on. It’s been ten months since we last hugged, laughed, shared a meal. I can picture my life going on without her in it now; it’s like a piece of myself is missing, and the phantom pains will linger a long time. But today – I cannot even say this out loud because it catches in my throat – today, I dressed the wound. I did not want to, but I cannot live raw forever. No one can. I felt for so long that to say goodbye, to acknowledge The End, would be to betray the decade we spent as sisters, to break a promise. She leaves a hole that, right now, I don’t even want to fill. That is Her Spot, and always will be. I will always love you, my dearest friend. Goodbye.

Grief is such a strange thing.

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You can be going along, perfectly fine, and then WHAM, it sneaks up behind you and clubs you over the head, and the wound is fresh again. Tonight I found myself blindsided with grief for a dear old friend. We were supposed to raise our babies together and grow to be snarky old ladies. We were going to be the Golden Girls. I miss her so, but I thought I had entered Acceptance. Then tonight out of nowhere, I felt that same gut punch as if the loss had just happened. And in my hurt, God sent a friend with unexpected words to comfort me. This friend was a beacon of hope in my hour of need, a reminder that life goes on and old hurts do heal.

Weaning During Menopause

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For anyone else who may be facing this unpleasant (to say the least) combo.

One of my concerns when surgical menopause became necessary was, would my breastmilk supply be affected? My surgeon assured me that lactation is not controlled by estrogen; I might have a dip in supply, but should have no trouble nursing as long as baby and I desired. With my daughter’s second birthday coming only a few weeks after the surgery, a dip in supply didn’t worry me. I did not foresee the added pain and difficulty this minor side effect would bring.

This is not the first child I have allowed to dry nurse for comfort as my supply dwindled, so I knew it would hurt. But my son was generally satisfied with dry nursing for comfort. He fussed a little the first week or two that it started to happen, but he adjusted quickly and, shortly after my milk dried up completely, he lost interest. This poor child is NOT happy. She pulls away and tells me, “Mommy, I sad! Nurse empty!” And cries. She’s breaking my heart. I just have to tell her “I know, baby,” as I choke back my own tears. This just feels like one more area where I am falling short as a mother. My kids are generally happy and healthy. They are smart and polite. There are a lot of things I’ve done right by them, but oh how the devil likes to throw my shortcomings in my face. Especially those of my body, the ones that are beyond my control. Oh, he just loves to make me feel like dirt when I cannot meet my own June Cleaver standards. But you know what, you ol devil? Christ’s grace is sufficient. I am sufficient. This is not going to ruin my child and I certainly won’t let it ruin me.

Silver Linings

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember that a few months ago my husband lost his job and we lost our house. We moved into a one bedroom apartment with our children and pets. While this is certainly not ideal, we’ve experienced some unexpected benefits. To save space, we bought my son a loft bed that has a bookshelf and play space underneath and put it in the living room. He thinks having his bed in the living room is SO COOL. He’s never been a good sleeper, but he has slept better and slept in his own bed more consistently since we moved than he ever has in his short life. The cats like to sleep on his bed now since it is up high, which has helped them warm up to him and is also super cute. It’s much easier to put him to bed on the nights when he falls asleep on the couch; his bed is only two feet away instead of up a flight of stairs. And all of the children get to enjoy the playspace under his bed freely, since it is in the shared family area. They call it “the cave.”

Some other surprise benefits: our upstairs neighbors got a swingset for the back yard, which our children are free to use any time. They have LOVED it. The upstairs neighbors also have a dog who is good with kids, so they have become best buds. And really, although it is a little cramped and often feels a bit crowded, we’ve been very happy here. The kids don’t seem to mind the small quarters most of the time, usually only when the weather’s been nasty and we’ve been trapped inside a lot. God’s grace has covered us during this lean time, and we are blessed.

 

Love Story, Part III: Paper Hearts

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Our senior year of high school, around the time I met The Guitarist, my future husband met a girl on a school trip. She was smart and drop-dead gorgeous, and obviously into him. Things got serious quickly.

When The Guitarist broke my heart, my old friend offered me comfort. Only as a friend, of course, since he had a serious relationship with someone else at the time. “I never understood why you were with that guy anyway, he wasn’t good enough for you,” he told me. I mourned and waited and hoped for about a month, and then I went on the re-bound. I dated lots of boys casually, had a lot of fun but broke a heart or two in the process. When I had been back on the dating scene for a few months, my old friend’s girlfriend broke his heart. And I was there for him, just like he’d been there for me. We started hanging out more, talking more, even went on a few dates.

A couple of months after we started dating, I left for an internship across the country. The night before I left, I took a risk and told him that I might be falling for him. It was dark. He froze. My heart pounded for what felt like an eternity. Just when I was sure I’d made a terrible mistake, he drew me close and kissed me tenderly. “I think I am, too,” he whispered. Joy and relief washed over me as we embraced in the moonlight. I still had several suitors at that time, but I realized that night that I only wanted him.

When I left, we made no promises, but both secretly hoped that maybe when I came home we could begin a real relationship. We exchanged letters, postcards, and the occasional long-distance call. He sent me a couple of gifts, I sent him photos of my adventures. He made it clear in some of his early letters that there was no one else. I felt hesitant to trust someone new with my heart so soon, but oh, how I hoped.

Every time a letter came with that familiar handwriting on the front, my heart skipped a beat. I could hardly wait to find somewhere private and quiet to drink in every word. Those letters nourished our timid hearts, both healing, hoping, reaching. He won my heart not with slick manipulation, but with slow, honest sharing of himself.

When I came home, he met me at the airport with flowers, and soon we became inseparable. We went for long walks hand in hand, hiked mountain trails, had romantic picnics at the park, and generally made people sick with our sweetness. If happy ever after does exist, this was it.

In the Fall, we attended the same college. We studied together and attended free events on campus. We even took some classes together. We roasted marshmallows over back-yard campfires, and I further cemented my place in his heart with my signature hot chocolate and baked goods. Our relationship thrived, and life was good. We got involved in a local church together and talked about theology regularly, sharing our views and our questions. We didn’t agree on everything, but we respected and appreciated each other’s ideas and even won each other over occasionally with civil discourse.

As Fall gave way to Winter, I accepted my second internship. This one would take me to a far-off land filled with unknowns. I would live with the locals this time, potentially without phone or postal access for the duration of the assignment. It was a lot to ask of a still-new relationship, but we were young and believed in the power of our love. At the airport, we kissed and said our tearful goodbyes, and I promised to write if I could. We didn’t know what the following weeks might hold, for me, for us, but as I boarded the plane, I left behind a strong, courageous young man of sound character. This time, it went without saying, we each would wait for the other.

Love Story, Part II: My Detour

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The guitarist and I talked and flirted the evening away. I could not believe he liked me! At the end of the night, I gave him my number. I grinned the whole way home. We spoke on the phone a couple of times that week, and then I totaled my car. That is a story in and of itself that I will save for later, what you need to know for this story is that I suffered a Grade III concussion. Because the concussion was so severe, I missed several weeks of school. I couldn’t remember anything from the morning of the accident until I woke up after, and I could not retain any new information. The morning after the accident, the guitarist called to check on me. Several of our classmates had driven by the wreckage on the way to school, so word spread quickly. He asked if I’d like to see a movie when I felt up to it, and I said yes. I joke that I only agreed to go out with him because I wasn’t thinking clearly, between the head injury and the teenage hormones. There’s probably more truth to that than I’d like to believe.

This boy knew how to play the game. He told me what I wanted to hear in dulcet tones, dripping with honey, and I lapped up every word. He even started going to church with me, and we prayed and read the Bible together. We moved fast and did some things I’m not proud of, and quickly fell into puppy-love. We talked about our futures and made the starry-eyed plans that young lovers make. Then, at the Prom, he requested Our Song. While we slow-danced, pressed too close together, he slipped a tiny ring onto my finger. We had been dating for a whopping five months and had only known each other for three weeks before that. Yes, we were total idiots.

Shortly before graduation, he developed a serious medical condition and couldn’t walk. For weeks into the summer, I cared for him all day so his parents wouldn’t have to take time off work. At first it was OK, but things started to change. He began to withdraw. When he started to recover, he still let me help him some, but we didn’t talk. I was so confused. And then the hammer fell. He broke it off. I felt nauseous. I couldn’t breathe. How did this happen? What did I do wrong? Why would he do this? A few days later, he called and asked me to come over. He apologized, and we got back together, but something was different. We went back and forth, on again, off again, for months. And then it was over.